Conference call presentations; Issue #277 January 8, 2013

Last year a client asked me for some ideas on how to effectively present when your audience is attending via conference call. You have sent your presentation to the audience members via e-mail, and now you go through it while the audience listens to your over the phone. As the presenter, you don’t control what the audience sees on their screen the way you do through a webinar. Here are the ideas I shared with my client.

First, you will have to ensure that your slides have slide numbers. Use the PowerPoint feature that automatically numbers the slides. In PowerPoint 2007, the Slide Number icon is on the Insert tab. The reason you need the slide number is that it will be your only way to help keep the audience on track with where you are in the presentation. You can’t see what slide they are on so during the presentation give direction such as, “Now moving to slide eight.” When someone asks a question, you can ask them what slide they are asking about to make sure you understand the context for their question.

One of the other issues you will have to address is how to build information as you speak about it. When you control the slides, you can use build animation in PowerPoint. When you e-mail the presentation, you can’t be confident that every participant automatically will think of viewing the slides in Slide Show mode. You can ask attendees to view the slide show in Slide Show mode at the start of the presentation, and this can work in some environments. If you want to try to get people to use Slide Show mode, you can save the file as a PowerPoint Show file (PPSX file extension). This file opens in Slide Show mode when opened from an e-mail. Attendees will also then need verbal instruction as to when to advance to the next build on each slide. This may affect the flow of your presentation. As an alternative, you can build your ideas across multiple slides, which will work for attendees whether they are in Slide Show or normal edit modes.

The final issue I addressed was how to have backup slides available in case someone asks a question about the details of what you are speaking about. These slides need to be in your PowerPoint file, the question is how to have everyone easily access the slides only if required. First, I suggest you place a banner across the top or bottom of your backup slide to indicate that this is a backup slide. This visual clue will quickly identify backup slides to the audience. I suggest you place any backup slide right after the slide it applies to instead of at the end of the file in an Appendix. It is much easier for you and the audience to access when it is close to the slide you are speaking about. Give verbal instructions to let the attendees know which slide you are moving to next, whether it is a backup slide or the next regular slide. If you can have everyone viewing the slides in Slide Show mode, you can ask the attendees to use the hyperlinks on the slides to quickly jump to hidden backup slides.

PowerPoint presentations are delivered in many different ways, from live in front of the audience, to via webinar, to conference call, to strictly stand-alone via e-mail. For each delivery method, consider how best to use the technology that will add to your message. Use the tips in this article to present more effectively via conference call.